My Favorite Road Trip: The Coast of Ireland – 1992

During my junior year of college, I studied in Toulouse, France where I lived for approximately 10 months. During each break, I took a road trip (or a train trip) to visit other areas of France, as well as other countries in Europe. One of those road trips was a week-long drive with my grandmother along the eastern, southern and western coasts of Ireland.

It was spring break and my grandmother flew alone to Dublin from Southern California. We met at the airport baggage area prior to going to the rental car office.

We decided prior to our arrival that I would drive since the Irish drive on the left side of the road. We agreed that if there was an issue, my reflexes might be better suited for quick action.

I planned out the entire trip – mapping out our stops at the traditional tourist hot spots as well as the lesser known areas along the route. I also selected the hotels, restaurants and rental car company. But there was one thing I forgot to do… check the minimum age requirements for renting cars in Ireland. I had just turned 21.

When we arrived at the car rental office, the employee informed us that I was too young to rent a car. He said he didn’t want to see two American women on the front page of the morning’s newspaper for causing a car accident “or worse”. I told him if he didn’t let me drive, then the chances would be much greater that he would see us in the paper. And with that, he allowed me to rent the car as long as I promised to drive slowly and cautiously.

Unfortunately before we even left Dublin, my grandmother became ill and did not feel like exiting the car at any of the stops except for one, but she insisted we still make the drive. So at each stop, I hopped out, took some photos and jumped back in the car so we could end the day early and she could rest. It was a good thing I was allowed to be the primary driver on the car or we may have been stuck in Dublin for the entire week!

Here’s a photo of my grandmother waiting in the car:

Ireland Road Trip

I do have a couple of photos of her outside of the car somewhere, but I am not sure where I put them.

Even though we did not get to spend much time at any of the stops, we did get to view the beautiful scenery that changed so dramatically as we drove south along the eastern coast from Dublin, along the southern coast and then up the western coast before heading back across the middle of Ireland to Dublin. One minute, the land was a lush green with lots of vegetation. The next, it was a barren field of rocks. And then almost as suddenly, the landscape changed yet again to rugged cliffs with crashing waves below.

Here are some photos from the trip:

Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip
Ireland Road Trip

We also received reminders along the way to slow down and enjoy the scenery, including one time when a family of sheep ran for more than 20 minutes in front of our car as I drove less than five miles an hour behind them!

Ireland Road Trip

Only once along the trip did I have any issues driving on the left side of the road. On one stretch of two lane country “highway”, whenever someone passed a slower car, the driver would come into my lane and expect me to move into the shoulder. I did so initially to avoid head-on collisions, but then noticed other drivers did the same thing so I realized it must have been a rule of the road or a courtesy thing. I wanted occasionally to steer to the right during these situations, but kept the car rental guy’s voice in my head and kept telling myself he would not see us on the front page of the newspaper!

Despite my grandmother not being well enough to fully enjoy the trip, exploring a foreign country by car was a wonderful way for us to spend some one-on-one time together. My grandmother passed away five years ago and our trip is a memory I will always cherish.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Discount Tire blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card and be entered for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


One Response to “My Favorite Road Trip: The Coast of Ireland – 1992”

  1. November 26th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Barbara says:

    This was such a fantastic post! I have always wanted to go to Ireland! What a great way to spend time with your Grandma (even if she was sick). I’m sure it meant a lot to her! Great memories and pictures!
    Thank you!


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